'Anti-Pak­istan' rant

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

The gov­ern­ment has strictly re­acted to Nawaz Sharif's rant at the op­po­si­tion's All Par­ties Con­fer­ence held on Sun­day though it was not un­ex­pected in the cur­rent po­larised at­mos­phere. At the MPC, par­tic­u­larly the for­mer premier have been ac­cused of 'anti-Pak­istan' by dur­ing a presser last Mon­day by se­nior fed­eral min­is­ters in­clud­ing Shah Mah­mood Qureshi, Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry and Shi­bli Faraz. They claimed the op­po­si­tion was pro­mot­ing the en­emy's agenda by lev­el­ling al­le­ga­tions against na­tional in­sti­tu­tions like the army, NAB and ECP. Mr Umar also said the MPC was proof that Prime Min­is­ter Im­ran Khan was right when he said at the be­gin­ning of his ten­ure that "the op­po­si­tion has ev­ery­thing at stake … and when ac­count­abil­ity moves for­ward, they will all get to­gether".

It now takes very lit­tle for wild al­le­ga­tions of be­ing 'an­ti­s­tate' to be bandied about. The shame­ful prece­dent that be­gan with the sis­ter of this coun­try's founder be­ing de­clared a for­eign agent in a state-spon­sored advertisem­ent cam­paign dur­ing Gen Ayub Khan's gov­ern­ment has come of age in a political arena where healthy de­bate seems a passé con­cept. That said, the min­is­ters' con­tention that the op­po­si­tion have joined hands in or­der to neu­tralise the cor­rup­tion charges against them is not with­out merit.

PM Im­ran has also re­peat­edly al­leged the same self-in­ter­est on their part, par­tic­u­larly in con­nec­tion with the pas­sage of FATF-re­lated leg­is­la­tion. There are se­ri­ous charges of cor­rup­tion against sev­eral lead­ing op­po­si­tion fig­ures, in­clud­ing Mr Sharif, and they must face them in a court of law, re­gard­less of the out­come. That will in­crease their stature and lend cred­i­bil­ity to their claims of fight­ing for democ­racy. A stint in prison, even on trumped-up charges, has rarely done a politi­cian's ca­reer any harm - quite the con­trary in fact.

It is a re­pug­nant line of at­tack. Cer­tainly, there are se­ri­ous dif­fer­ences be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the op­po­si­tion on a va­ri­ety of is­sues. The for­mer ap­pears hell-bent on pur­su­ing the cur­rent mode of ac­count­abil­ity while the lat­ter be­lieves it is be­ing un­fairly hounded and that the gov­ern­ment would not last a day with­out the sup­port of ex­tra-con­sti­tu­tional forces.

In­stead of preach­ing to the choir, both sides should start a healthy political 'fight' that draws the line at ac­cus­ing each other of be­ing un­pa­tri­otic or work­ing against Pak­istan. They would do well to con­sider that it serves our en­e­mies well when our lead­ers en­gage in such re­crim­i­na­tion. We lost this coun­try's east­ern wing nearly four decades ago amidst pre­cisely such vi­cious rhetoric and pol­i­tics of vil­i­fi­ca­tion. This must stop now.

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